Collagen is the most abundant protein in our bodies, making up 75% of our skin. It supports the appearance of smooth, youthful skin and provides structure and strength for our bones, muscles and tendons. It’s essentially the “glue” that helps hold our bodies together.
Fun Fact: The word collagen is derived from the Greek kolla, which means “glue.”
Our body naturally produces the collagen it needs, but the production gradually begins to slow as we age. Women produce less collagen than men, and this collagen is lost at a rate of about 1% per year. This means that a woman has naturally lost almost half of the collagen from her skin by the age of 50.
Collagen is also greatly affected by environmental stresses such as sun exposure, nutrition, skin damage, and exposure to toxins such as pollutants, cigarette smoke and recreational drugs. With decreased collagen, the skin loses its natural elasticity and firmness. This is when fine lines, wrinkles and sagging appear. Maintaining the amount of collagen is the key to beautiful skin.
Increasing collagen levels can firm your skin, increase smoothness, and help your skin cells renew and repair normally. It’s not just your skin that benefits from collagen’s strengthening powers. Your hair, nails and teeth will also thank you for giving them some extra TLC. The protein in collagen works as a building block keeping them strong and healthy.
When we lose collagen, we also experience stiffness in our tendons and ligaments, and swollen joints. Ingesting collagen is the equivalent of greasing a creaky door hinge. Collagen will help your joints move more easily and reduce pain.
Supplementing collagen to your skin is best achieved in a specific form called hydrolyzed collagen which is comprised of small amino acids, also referred to as collagen peptides. Unlike the gelatin form of collagen that gave your childhood desserts their jiggle, collagen peptides are absorbed quickly by the body and stimulate the body’s own natural production of collagen.
In clinical studies this bioavailable form of collagen has been shown to significantly reduce wrinkle volume, increase elasticity and skin hydration levels. Due to the absorption ability of hydrolyzed collagen, significant increases in fibroblast leading to increased density of the skin have also been demonstrated. In other words, hydrolyzed collagen is the secret to youthful skin.
This leads us to Part Two of our Three-Part Series. Ingestible Collagen. That’s right, you heard us correctly. Tune in next week for an explanation of why you should consider practicing this ancient tradition.